Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

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May 23, 2014

Lake plan aims to boost tourist spots — Each summer beckons recreation enthusiasts to outdoor sites across Oklahoma and adding to those options again are the two lakes serving Pauls Valley.

Always aware of the draw and hoping to build on tourism opportunities, Police Chief Mitch McGill, overseer for the two water resources, recently shared a long term plan to improve both Longmire Lake and the municipal lake best known as “Old City Lake.”

Still in the initial stages, he noted how with the help of the lake board, they came up with 10 items to beautify and enhance the experiences of people who regularly enjoy activities from camping to fishing.

“We were just trying to prioritize what we needed and come up with a good plan that we could follow over the next five years,” said McGill.

“Obviously by improving it, we hope to bring more people to Pauls Valley.”

One of the immediate priorities will be get new roofs on bathrooms and pavilions at both lakes, said McGill.

There will also be a push to improve camping pads at the city lake, making them concrete pads instead of washed out gravel pads.

“We got some new lake board members, people who are energetic to get things done,” said McGill. “It’s a step in the right direction.”

Later on the city also plans to add RV total hook ups at the south side of Longmire and adding sewage capabilities to those that only have water and electricity, said McGill.

Goals also include building a parking lot at the city lake for pick-ups or trailers northwest of the new boat dock, build a gravel road on north side of Longmire to access the fishing area, tear down a dilapidated house on the south side of Longmire, build a cleaning dock at the city lake and improve the roads there as well.

City Manager James Frizell noted at a previous city council meeting where the plan received its blessing that they would like to eventually restock the lake with fish like saugeye. That is still recovering from the lower lake level years.

Additionally, he wouldn’t mind restocking bass. However, he said there is a need to make improvements like cover for “finger length fish” so they wouldn’t be wiped out by the older already established populations.

One thing Frizell said could be done to address that would be to try to plant something like wheat when water levels drop to provide cover when water rises again. He noted how they would likely purchase the fish instead of having the state do it.

These could be requests that might receive help from the tourism board over several occasions and none of the remaining suggestions have to happen in any particular order or all at once, said McGill.

Some of the upgrades that have already taken place include picnic tables being improved or added as well as new trash cans thanks to tourism dollars.

“It gives us a direction to go during the summer,” said McGill. “Our camp sites are full nearly every day. Both lakes are very busy during the summer time.”

At the moment there is still enough water in both lakes to use the boat ramps, but they still need some heavy showers to help fill them up more, said McGill. It would not take long to shut those down if another drought like a couple of years ago once again hits the area.

In the end, McGill pointed out how this is a revenue source for the city and it is a good investment since those people will come to town and spend money as well.

Fishing or hunting permits can be purchased at Walmart, the police department or at either lake camp posts.

Camping has to be purchased at the lakes. For more visitor information at the lakes, call 405-207-6630.

“The next step is to get it funded for the next five years,” said McGill. “We’re just trying to do a lot to pretty things up and make it more appealing to the public.”

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